The Fairfield University women’s volleyball team is going dancing this December, as they became the champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) for the 13th time in program history on Sunday, Nov. 19. They secured this feat by knocking off the defending champions, the Quinnipiac University Bobcats, 3-1, in front of a raucous Leo D. Mahoney Arena crowd.
This is the sixth time that the MAAC Championship game has been hosted by Fairfield and the first championship game that has been held in the history of Leo D. Mahoney Arena, which opened just a short while ago in November 2022.
In addition to their 13th conference championship, the Stags won the regular season MAAC championship for the 22nd time in 28 seasons. Furthermore, the Stags accomplished all of this with a new head coach, Nancy Somera, who was hired this season after the previous head coach, Todd Kress, resigned to take the same position at San Jose State University this past January. Somera achieved something that no MAAC coach has done in 19 years, which is leading their team to a MAAC championship title in their first season on the job. She became the first coach to win the MAAC in year one since Kris Zeitler did so in her first campaign with Iona College in 2004.
“We started this season as a completely new staff with seven new players and seven returners. Even then, we felt like maybe we had the pieces to have a successful season, but we had to find our way as individuals and as a group,” Somera says, according to the game’s official press release. “We’re not standing here today without all 14 players buying in completely and working their tails off from Day one.”
Leading the charge for the Stags during their championship run was none other than middle blocker Maya Walker ‘26, who was crowned as the championship MVP. The Stone Mountain, Ga. native put on a masterful showing, hitting .429 in the teams’ wins over Rider University and Quinnipiac to lock down the MVP nod. She averaged 2.63 kills per set to go along with 11 blocks in eight frames of work.
When asked about her MVP performance, Walker did not forget to credit those around her who have been in her corner throughout the season and conference tournament.
“I’m grateful to my team, without my setters I couldn’t get any kills,” Walker says. “And without my awesome defense to allow me to work in transition, which is my favorite time to get swings.”
She also thanked the fans who showed up on that Sunday afternoon for providing a much-needed home-court advantage, which the Stags certainly benefited from.
“It was really exciting to have such a big crowd. It’s good to know the student body supports us,” Walker exclaims. “This year was different because we had a new staff and a lot of new members, but we came together really well and the play of our new teammates was what ultimately led us to the win.”
Haut, an outside hitter, was honored as a first-team all-MAAC pin hitter for her efforts this season. The Monroe, Mich. product generated the bulk of the offense for the herd this weekend, leading the unit with 3.63 kills per set at a .253 rate on the outside as well as an even 1.00 block per frame. During the course of the afternoon, she had 17 kills to go along with a .250 clip on the outside in the afternoon. Haut finishes the campaign with 2.85 kills per game as well as 259 kills overall.
Berg, a libero and defensive specialist leading the herd’s back row, posted 4.25 digs per set as the Stags limited both of their opponents to a combined .151 hitting percentage. The only four-year senior on this year’s squad, the Fishers, Ind. native is very gracious for how this season has gone and is fired up to become a champion upon the conclusion of her last game at home.
“It’s exhilarating. I’m thankful for my team for getting me here, especially for my senior year,” said Berg, according to the game’s official press release. “It’s been such an exciting year with a new building, new coaches and half of a new team. To be standing here today in Mahoney Arena as the MAAC Champions, I couldn’t be prouder of what we have accomplished.”
Walker, Haut and Berg could not do the job without the rest of their teammates. Other contributors during the sealing victory included All-Rookie Team right side Mamie Krubally, who added 11 kills to go along with a .500 clip. Supplementing this attack, outside hitters Svenja Rodenbüsch ‘25 and Allie Elliott ‘26, graduate student Janna Schlageter and graduate student middle blocker Elle Shult racked up nine, four, three and one kill respectively. Quarterbacked by setter Blakely Montgomery ‘25, the offense ran at a .255 clip, as the League City, Texas native dished out 44 assists and knocked down three kills of her own.
On the other side of the ball, it is widely known that defense wins championships, and the Stags exemplified that. The defense came in clutch with 12 blocks as a group, with Walker and Schalgeter shutting the Bobcat offense down with six rejections, and the trio of Haut, Krubally and Montgomery teaming up for four stops.
They were helped by the back row, with Berg executing a team-best 18 digs to go along with a pair of aces. Rodenbüsch walked away with the win with 14 digs on her own, while Elliott and libero and defensive specialist Noelle Carey ‘24 who secured 10 apiece while limiting the Quinnipiac offense to a .181 hitting clip.
Somera did not forget about her defense when praising her newly crowned championship unit.
“Quinnipiac is a very talented team. They’re all very skilled and very smart, so you know they are going to make good decisions and execute them well,” said Somera, according to the game’s official press release. “The biggest thing we did today was that we had them out of the system and had their setter on the run, so even though they were still making the right choices, it wasn’t always the best set or the best swing that they are capable of. And as their hitters wore down, our blockers started to pick up their rhythm and got some huge stuff blocks and altered swings that led to points on our end.”
She did not forget the fans, either.
“Thank you to our students and all of the fans who came out to support us this weekend,” said Somera, according to the game’s official press release. “They turned Mahoney Arena into the best volleyball atmosphere in the MAAC, and we look forward to seeing them all when we’re back on our home court next season.”
The Stags finish the season with a 22-6 record to go along with an impressive 16-2 showing in MAAC play. They also conclude the season with a seven-game winning streak that dates back to a victory over Manhattan College on Nov. 1. They also finished their first season at Leo D. Mahoney Arena by posting an 11-2 record, demonstrating a strong home-court advantage. The Stags are in preparations to take on power-five opponent Purdue University on Thursday, Nov. 30 at Holloway Gymnasium in West Lafayette, Ind. First serve will take place at 7 p.m. against the number 13 ranked team in the country according to the most recent AVCA national pool. For more information about the Fairfield University women’s volleyball team, please visit www.fairfieldstags.com.